By Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia - 07/12/11 11:10 PM EDT
NRC nuke review coming
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission could unveil its 90-day staff review of the country’s 104 reactors as soon as Wednesday.
President Obama ordered the review in the wake of March's nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant. It’s the first of a two-part review of U.S. reactor safety. The NRC will conduct a longer, six-month review after the 90-day review is complete.
In an interview with The Hill Monday, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko called on his fellow commissioners to make decisions on all of the recommendations in the 90-day review within an additional three months of the report's release.
The Hill will have more from its exclusive interview with Jaczko later in the week.
Exxon executive to testify on Yellowstone River spill
Capitol Hill inquiries into Exxon Mobil's Montana oil spill are expanding.
A panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hear testimony from a top Exxon executive Thursday on an oil spill resulting from a break in one of the company’s pipelines.
The spill, which Exxon estimates dumped as many as 40,000 gallons of oil in Montana’s Yellowstone River, has raised the ire of environmental groups and Montana officials.
The country’s top pipeline regulator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Administrator Cynthia Quarterman, will testify at the hearing, along with National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Douglas Inkley.
The hearing was requested by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.).
Oxfam to SEC: Hang tough against oil companies
Oxfam America is ramping up pressure on the Securities and Exchange Commission to finalize a rule that mandates oil and mining company disclose their payments to foreign governments.
The humanitarian group is battling oil companies that are seeking exemptions from the transparency rule, which is aimed at ending the “resource curse” in which energy- and mineral-rich nations are plagued by high levels of corruption, conflict and poverty.
Oxfam will begin running ads Wednesday that call on the SEC to issue strong transparency rules.
They are timed to coincide with this month’s first anniversary of the Dodd-Frank law, which mandated the requirements.
The group also has an online campaign that allows people to email the American Petroleum Institute urging the powerful trade group to abandon its push for oil company exemptions from the disclosure requirements.
Several major oil companies are seeking to limit the scope of the rules in various ways (check out our coverage here and here).
“The SEC must not give in to the wishes of companies that don’t want to follow the new law,” said Ian Gary, policy manager of Oxfam’s oil and mining program.
White House threatens to veto GOP water bill
The White House threatened Tuesday to veto Republican-backed legislation that would limit the federal government’s ability to set water quality standards.
The legislation, authored by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from setting water quality standards in the event that state standards are lacking.
The bill “could result in adverse impacts to human health, the economy, and the environment through increased pollution and degradation of water bodies that serve as venues for recreation and tourism, and that provide drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy Tuesday.
The House will begin considering the bill Wednesday.
House energy panel votes to delay EPA power plant rules
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation Tuesday that would mandate a new interagency panel to review the economic effect of several EPA rules that Republicans and some Democrats call burdensome.
The committee adopted an amendment en route to passage that would delay a pair of power plant pollution rules until six months after the interagency panel submits its report.
The amendment would delay planned rules to curb mercury and other toxics from power plants, and a recently finalized rule that sets new limits on sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from power plant smokestacks in 27 Eastern states.
The amendment and overall bill cleared the panel largely along party lines, though a handful of conservative Democrats — including Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Gene Green (D-Texas) — backed both.
Lawmakers, groups launch ‘enhanced oil recovery’ initiative
While lawmakers battle over whether to open more lands to drilling companies, a new initiative aims to wrest more oil from areas where development already occurs — and maybe help prevent the planet from overheating.
Several lawmakers and groups launched a campaign Tuesday to develop policies that foster “enhanced oil recovery” methods using carbon dioxide. Using the CO2 injections to improve yields from existing oil fields is seen as a way to boost U.S. production while stocking a greenhouse gas away underground.
Lawmakers supporting the new National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative include Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), among others.
The Great Plains Institute and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change are facilitating the effort. Experts from a range of companies (such as Exxon Mobil), states, green groups and other organizations are taking part. The initiative is aimed at creating recommendations by early next year for state and federal policymakers on ramping up enhanced oil recovery.
ON TAP WEDNESDAY:
House panel to mark up drilling, renewable energy bills
The House Natural Resources Committee will mark up several bills. They include a measure to expedite oil-and-gas drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and several bills to knock down what Republicans call red tape impeding renewable energy projects on federal lands and offshore.
Summit to explore energy security
Wednesday brings the National Summit on Energy Security, convened by the group Securing America’s Future Energy. Experts appearing include Dennis Blair, the former director of national intelligence, FedEx CEO Fred Smith, Bush-era White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Forum to review ‘smart grid’ efforts
The National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid gets rolling Wednesday. Speakers include FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
Energy Department fracking panel to gather
Wednesday also features the latest meeting of an Energy Department advisory panel reviewing ways to improve the safety of the natural gas development method called hydraulic fracturing.
Offshore safety in focus
Outside Washington, the Interior Department’s Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee will hold its second meeting. The panel — which was established as part of the federal response to the BP oil spill — will gather in New Orleans.
House panel works through coal ash bill
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up a bill that would prevent EPA from regulating waste products from coal-fired power plants — called coal combustion residuals — under the hazardous waste title of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
Here's a quick roundup of Tuesday's E2 stories:
- Appropriators battle over Grand Canyon
- Sen. Inhofe places hold on Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary
- Gulf spill penalty bill not ready for prime time
- House rejects Dem efforts to restore green energy research program
- Obama signs order forming Alaska drilling task force
- Gore to connect dots on extreme weather, climate change
- Bingaman plans to offer ‘clean energy standard’ proposal amid major hurdles
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